tv U.S. Senate Sen. Cornyn on Coronavirus Impact CSPAN March 26, 2020 4:15am-4:33am EDT
ahead of us. let us face up to them bravely. let us acknowledge the troubles ahead and let us devote our whole energy to winning this battle quickly so that the normal life of our nation can resume. mr. president, i yield the. mr. cornyn: mr. president, during times of disaster, crisis or hardship, i am -- i never failed to be inspierped by the -- inspired by the generosity of americans, including folks in my home state of texas. i think about how we came together in the wake of hurricane harvey, to lead search and rescue operations, clear debris, and rebuild communities and lives. we saw strangers forming human chains to rescue a driver trapped in a car.
restaurants offering free meals to first responders. and a houston legend known aaffectionately as mattress mack opening his furniture stores for those who needed shelter. one volunteer said i've met more of my neighbors in the last 24 hours than i have in the last 20 years. well, these heart warming stories of texans lending a hand to one another are a source of comfort, even during the toughest times. right now when extending a physical hand is one of the worst things you can do because it violates social distancing rules, there's til plenty of neighbors -- there's still plenty of neighbors helping their neighbors. folks in texas like around the country are staying home to keep themselves and their neighbors safe, and we're seeing new and creative means of supporting one
another. for example, a number oftilries across -- of distilleries across the state have switched from making vodka or whiskey to hand sanitizer. with demands surging and hand sanitizer in short supply, more and more hospitals are struggling to keep it in stock and these distilleries are stepping up to fill the void. jonathan lockridge is the headtilry and cofounder of the en route republictilry in dens denson, texas and they said they got a call asking if they could help. of course he said yes. but businesses like this aren't alone. h.e.b., a grocery chain, has taken steps to make shopping easier for seniors who are at most risk if they contract the
coronavirus. h.b.p. partnered to take grocery delivery, a service many americans already utilize and make it more accessible to seniors. they could pick up the phone, place an order, and have everything they need delivered to their front door within a few hours, all without having to leave home. we've also seen other organizations working to adapt to these challenging circumstances. the boys and girls club of greater houston partnered with the houston food bank to open a drive-thru pantry. families can get a whole week's worth of healthy meals without ever stepping out of the car. of course, it's not just businesses and organizations who are helping out. people are helping other people. people are donating blood to alleviate the critical shortage that hospitals are facing.
and all of us should consider if we can donating blood. they're leaving note in neighbors' mailboxes offering to run errands and pick up supplies. on social media school teachers that are at home are offering to help parents with their math, science, or other subjects that they may be struggling to teach their kids while they're at home and not at school. neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping strangers, texans helping texans. that's one thing i love about this great country. our communities always jump into action to help any way they can. they do what it takes to survive a crisis and keep one another safe and healthy until we emerge on the other side.
mr. president, it's time for the senate to do its part. there's been no event in my lifetime that has had this big an impact on the physical and economic health of our country. every day we learn about more new cases, rising unemployment, and unprecedented market volatility. we have a responsibility to act and to act quickly in response to this dueling crisis. already we were able to work and send two bills to the president's desk for signature. the first sent vital support to health care professionals and first responders who are doing everything they can to treat patients and prepare for more cases. we also provided initial funding for development of a vaccine, clinical trials, and more diagnostic tests.
the second bill we passed focused more on the small businesses and the individual workers who are impacted economically. it included changes in unemployment insurance so that those who find themselves out of a job can promptly take advantage of these benefits. and made paid sick and family leave available for workers impacted by the virus. that's what we did in these first two bills. were they perfect? well, no. the second bill in particular fell short in a number of areas. it was largely negotiated by secretary of the treasury mnuchin and speaker pelosi. but we decided that in the interest of the greater good and the country and the people who were hurting during this crisis, that we in the senate would pass it expeditiously. as the saying goes, you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. we acted quickly to get both bills to the president's desk, because the circumstances
demanded it. sadly, over the last few days, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been oblivious to the sense of urgency that every other american seems to understand. after the original intense bipartisan negotiations, we were finalizing a third relief bill which included by definition ideas from both republicans and democrats. we were optimistic that we would be able to take up and pass the bill on sunday, or at least get it started and pass the bill on monday, but clearly that didn't happen. our democratic colleagues blocked us from even debating the bill, not once but twice. the minority leader said the bill, which his members had helped write, wasn't good enough. he spent the next three days trying to change the bill to
include provisions that he thought were more important priorities during a national emergency. things like tax credits for solar panels and tighter emissions standards for airlines, proposals that have absolutely nothing to do with this crisis. after a few incredulous days, america woke up to the news today that our democratic colleagues are finally ready to stop this posturing and this obstruction and to get this job done. after blocking this bill twice and holding up this emergency lifeline, here's what the minority leader claims is a victory. he says the democrats expanded unemployment insurance to help laid off workers and those who are self-employed, but, mr. president, as we all know, that was already part of the bill that had been negotiated between democrats and
republicans. then the minority leader said americans will get direct aid, but we have been talking about that for weeks. that was part of the bill that democrats blocked twice. and let's get this -- let's be clear about this. here we are, members of the united states congress, getting a paycheck, and they have the temerity to block two times emergency aid to people who aren't -- who have no income at all through no fault of their own? it's outrageous. then the minority leader said he secured unprecedented aid for america's hospitals, but as it turns out that was part of the bill democrats blocked twice. it was the subject of bipartisan negotiations, and we thought a consensus. well, the bill that democrats blocked twice was a bipartisan
bill to begin with. democrats and republicans worked together and agreed to each of these points before the first votes were cast. the minority leader's members had spent countless hours negotiating with republicans. that's how you get things done. but then he single-handedly tries to take credit for the work that they have done. for days, democrats needlessly blocked a bill that would have bolstered our fight to defeat this virus and protected our economy in the process. i am absolutely angry that they chose to waste so much valuable time when there are so many different people in need, but i am also relieved that they finally agreed to quit playing their partisan games so we can vote on this legislation today. this bill sends desperately needed funding to hospitals that are struggling to manage an influx of patients and helps
fight the shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment, one of the priorities my governor had mentioned to me. it provides the direct financial assistance that was already in the two bills that our democratic colleague blocked. a family of four will receive up to $3,400 under this legislation, which will go a long way to throwing that lifeline to them and cover their rent, groceries, electric bills, and other expenses until they can make other arrangements, like apply for unemployment insurance under our beefed up provisions. this legislation will also provide relief for small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat. many of these businesses that had to shut -- have had to shut down because they have been ordered by the government to do so, and now they need some help to make sure that the jobs they currently provide will still be available when we get to the other side of this crisis.
and particularly we need to make sure that the employees they depend on and will depend on in the future will still be there when they reopen their doors. both the physical and economic health of our country in crisis, this bold legislation is our best path forward. i appreciate the work that's been done by so many around the clock for the better part of the past week to get this bill finally to the floor, and i look forward to supporting it so that my constituents, the 29 million people that call texas home will get help as soon as possible. as we prepare to pass this legislation and send it to the house, i urge them to act quickly, but you may recall, mr. president, it was speaker pelosi who flew back into town after a week-long recess, dropped an 1,100-page bill and
made all these outrageous new demands. clearing out their partisan or ideological outbox or wish list. well, incredibly, now that there has been an agreement here in the senate with the administration, speaker pelosi hasn't even called the house back into session. as a matter of fact, they had a -- they gaveled in session and out of session today, and they won't be back in session until tomorrow. speaker pelosi has a huge challenge. unless she can get unanimous consent to pass a $2 trillion bill through the house, she may well have to call back into session the entire house of representatives. with restricted flights because of the lack of demand and the cost cutting that airlines are going through with the concerns about people sheltering in place, maintaining social distance and good hygiene to stop the spread of this virus,
speaker pelosi has created a terrible problem for herself. but more importantly, she has created even more of a problem for the rest of the country because we need to get this passed out of the senate today and out of the house and to the president as soon as possible. the american people are depending on us to respond responsibly in a bipartisan way during an emergency like this, and we cannot let them down.laca
quorum call? the presiding officer: no. mrs. blackburn: we are not. thank you, mr. president. you know, i have to say last night was an unusually late night here in washington and we were all impatient, our staff was impatient, and the press was impatient. and as we talked to people across the state, what we realized was they've long been running out of patience. i talked about it for some time on the floor but for the hourly worker, factory worker, songwriter, gig worker, they've been telling